Saturday, June 18, 2011

Those Guys Have All The Fun - Part II Soccer Edition

Read the book if you're interested in the politics and power struggles of SportsCenter, about how Tony Kornheiser feels about Mike Tirico (and vice-versa) and random stories about how females at ESPN are treated badly - (although Michelle Beadle is lauded mightily by the authors).

But if you're interested in how the ESPN book intersects with soccer (do they reveal the conspiracy against the sport?), Sideline Views covers every mention of the game.

So after the first 300 pages or so, other than Chris Berman reminiscing about how he played high school soccer, there's no mention of the sport again until 316, when then-remote producer Jed Drake describes covering the 1994 World Cup.

It was the 1994 World Cup. I was in charge of the project, and the short of it is that because it is soccer, you don't run commercials and hence you have to have commercial sponsorship come off the miniboard, the scoreboard. The first game was at Soldier Field and we had all kinds of miniboard problems.

The upshot of Drake's story is that with the technical problems going on in the remote truck, he lost it and punched the side of the truck, breaking bones in his hand. It might be a nice anecdote about the intensity of the man and his determination to get the score up for the fans out there, except that nowhere in the story does Drake even mention the teams playing (Germany v Bolivia) let alone the score when the technical problems arose (Final score was 1-0). Plus, Drake seems less upset about the score not showing than he does about the commercial banners on the scoreboard not showing.

Yet 1994 wouldn't be Drake's last involvement with soccer. He's now senior vice-president and executive producer of event production at ESPN, by the way. His vote was apparently instrumental in the decision to block out American announcers from the televised coverage of the 2010 World Cup. From Drake's bio page:

Another difference between ESPN's 2006 and 2010 coverage is that Jed Drake is hiring predominantly non-American game announcers. Jed Drake believes that greater expertise will be a more important asset for ESPN soccer announcers than nationality. Some of the announcers hired by Jed Drake include Briton Martin Tyler of Sky Sports and retired soccer players Ruud Gullit, from the Netherlands, and Steve McManaman, from the United Kingdom.

So if you liked the fact that the announcers knew practically nothing about American soccer or its players, you have Drake to thank.

1 comment:

jon said...

While it would have been nice to have someone like JP or Glenn Davis doing games, perhaps it was worth it not to have to listen to Balboa?